The Murder of Constable John R. Lloyd

Unresolved to this day—68 years later.

By John W. Ashbury | Posted on 06.03.13 – History

In the old days of the wild west, with outlaws running rampant from the earnest law enforcement, it wasn’t unusual to see reward posters, particularly outside the sheriff’s office. But in Frederick County, monetary compensation for the arrest and conviction of a murderer was a rare event, but one notable case was an exception.

That case remains unresolved to this day—68 years later.

It has long been claimed that the only law enforcement official ever killed in the line of duty was Frederick County Sheriff’s Deputy Clyde L. Hauver, who was gunned down during a Prohibition-era raid on a whiskey still west of Thurmont. His killers were arrested, convicted and served long prison terms. However, the case of the murder of County Constable John R. Lloyd is unique in the county’s history.

Constable Lloyd had many years in law enforcement following his service in Europe during World War I. He had been a sheriff’s deputy prior to a railroad accident that resulted in the amputation of both his legs. He then became a constable, charged with serving legal papers for the county courts.

On the evening of April 27, 1945, just before midnight, Lloyd had taken a seat in the living room of his sister’s home near Brunswick, preparing to listen to a radio program. That’s when a blast from a shotgun, through a window, struck him in the neck and the right side of his head. His sister, Ella Ruble, rushed into the room from a rear porch and found him slumped in the chair.

Ruble awakened George Babington, a brakeman for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, who was a border in the home. Babington called the Brunswick Police and the Maryland State Police in Frederick. Dr. William Schnauffer, who at the time operated a hospital in Brunswick, hurried to the scene on the old Brunswick-Point of Rocks Road, but was unable to revive Lloyd.

Law enforcement officials from across the county rushed to the scene, hoping to discover clues that would lead to a speedy arrest. All they found was a butt plate from a shotgun, apparently lost by the perpetrator while escaping the scene.

As the months dragged on, the investigation ground to a halt. Officials from as far away as Texas, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, were involved, but no substantial suspect was identified.

Sheriff Horace “Buck” Alexander, exasperated by the lack of progress, appealed to the county commissioners to offer a reward. On July 23, 1945, they added to a contribution from local attorney Sherman P. Bowers and posted a $1,000 reward, equivalent to more than $12,000 today. But the money was never claimed and the case remains open to this day.

Following funeral services at Ruble’s home and at the First Reformed Church in Brunswick, Lloyd was buried in the Reformed Cemetery in Jefferson, survived by a brother, Ernest C. Lloyd, and two sisters, Ruble and Eva H. Bobo of Washington, D.C..

In a shocking coincidence, 10 years later almost to the day, Magistrate Charles Leslie Moats was shot and killed in the basement of his Brunswick home. The killer, also using a shotgun, fired through a window. As far as could be determined, this case also remains unsolved, again despite a reward being offered.